News, Updates & Articles

Get The Latest goShadow Information


Shadowing: Recharge your process improvement strategy

Posted on August 9, 2016

A middle-aged woman sits propped up in a bed at the ICU. While her head was bandaged and her neck was sore, more than anything else she needed desperately to know how her daughter was doing. They had been in a car accident earlier in the day. The paramedics were friendly, but they’d taken her daughter to another hospital. It had been hours, and she had no idea where her daughter was or how bad her injuries were.

A medical student named Karen was shadowing the woman through her stay with the Intensive Care Unit and noted her anxiety. The Shadowing team analyzed Karen’s notes from that day and collaborated among themselves to find a solution, in which they repurposed existing technology to provide a video chat between separated patients. Following the implementation of this solution, there has been a considerable decrease in anxiety when a patient is in trauma and separated from family members.

The insights from this experience lead to process improvement changes that were only possible because of shadowing. Most people think of shadowing as the task you complete during new job training, in which you would shadow a more experienced employee.

However, we shadow in a different way at goShadow. We define shadowing as the direct, real-time observation of an experience from the patient’s perspective. We frame Shadowing with Care Experiences, which are specific activity sets that occur in a sequence to create the patient’s journey. When selecting a Care Experience they can be as broad as an an entire hospital stay, or as narrow as an office visit or even the registration segment.

Key Attributes of Shadowing:

  1. Real-time Observation – Shadowing happens during the fact and not after. When Shadowing, you travel through the patient journey with them, right at their side.
  2. Identify Gaps – If you compare the descriptions of the same Care Experience by the patient or family with that of the care provider, you will find wide variations. Through shadowing, you can more easily find the gaps in the flow of the Care Experience between the expected and the ideal experiences.
  3. Co-Designed Care – The goal of shadowing is to improve the experience for the patient and for the staff to be enabled to provide the best possible outcomes. This is only viable if you design care with the patient and family in mind. When co-designing care with the patient, focus on what was learned from shadowing and how it can be directly tied into process improvement.

Much more than objective observation, shadowing provides an emotional connection that rekindles the care provider’s desire to make the changes necessary to improve processes for the patient. Shadowing reminds us that we are not only care providers, but that we are also patients and family members—and what patients and families feel and want is what we, too, have felt and wanted when in their place.

Ultimately, shadowing allows one to create a sense of urgency to drive positive change into Care Experiences with a single tool. And thanks to one of those changes, a mother and child are now more connected through video chat during their Care Experience in the intensive care unit. If you would like to see how you can implement shadowing at your organization, visit this page and we will provide you with a personalized demo.


Sign up for a 30-Day trial.